Sen. Jeff Sessions' Heroic Stand Against Amnesty
By Matthew Vadum
The Democrat-dominated U.S. Senate rammed through an immigration overhaul bill yesterday over the heroic objections of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) whose principled opposition to the legislative monstrosity have earned him a national following.
In a statement released after the vote, Sessions savaged the so-called comprehensive immigration reform bill.
We can create a lawful immigration system that makes us proud. But for that to happen, this bill must never become law. We must return to the drawing board and produce legislation that serves the just and legitimate interests of the nation, its people, and all who wish to call America home.
Despite months of propaganda and media hype, in the end the proposal advanced by the so-called Gang of 8, a bipartisan group of senators whose most visible member is Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), fell two votes short of the 70-vote target set by proponents Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). They had reasoned that attaining 70 “yes” votes would give the measure enough momentum to get through the other chamber. The Senate passed the legislation, 68 to 32, after a new version of the massive bill was substituted Friday. Senators had only the weekend to read the revamped bill.
“Sponsors of this legislation—despite the array of financial, establishment and special interest support—failed to hit their target of 70 votes,” Sessions said. “The more people learned about the bill the more uneasy they became. Failure to reach 70 votes is significant, and ensures the House has plenty of space to chart an opposite course and reject this fatally flawed proposal.”
The Senate-approved immigration amnesty legislation provides for a phony “border surge” that would beef up enforcement efforts — but which will never actually be carried out. The bill also perversely rewards employers for hiring illegal aliens over those legally allowed to work. Another provision would stay deportation efforts against criminal illegal aliens for two-and-a-half years to allow them to seek legal status. The legislation is also loaded with stimulus programs and political pork that has nothing to do with immigration. One provision would set aside $1.5 billion to provide low-income young people with taxpayer-funded vehicles such as cars, motorcycles, or scooters.
The measure “guarantees three things: immediate amnesty before security, permanent future illegal immigration, and a record surge in legal immigration that will reduce wages and increase unemployment,” Sessions said. “There will be no border fence, no border surge, nothing but the same tired illusory promises of future enforcement that will never occur. Americans have begged and pleaded time and again for Congress to end the lawlessness. But this amnesty-first bill is a surrender to lawlessness.”
If enacted, the bill will “decimate immigration enforcement and erode the constitutional rule of law upon which our national greatness depends,” he said. “And it remains unfair to the legal immigrants who put enormous time and expense into following the rules our nation has established.”
According to Sessions, the legislation provides that an additional 4.5 million illegals will be legalized over the following decade. At that point the nation’s intake of immigrants will grow by at least 50 percent per year over 10 years for a total of 1.5 million immigrants a year being placed on a path to citizenship, or 15 million more for 10 years.
In addition to these 30 million immigrants placed on a path to citizenship, the measure would also double the quantity of temporary workers who could come and stay in the U.S. for three years, Sessions said. The workers would have the option to “re-up” for another three years with their families.
The forceful arguments put forward by Sessions have boosted the junior Alabama senator’s image across the nation.
Jerry Kammer of the nonpartisan Center for Immigration Studies, a group whose motto is “Low immigration, Pro-Immigrant,” praises Sessions for his leadership.
Sessions “has emerged as a populist defender of unemployed Americans” by warning of the “grave damage” the legislation will do “by expanding the job competition not only from new temporary workers but also with those 11 million illegal immigrants whose liberation from ‘the shadows’ will allow them to seek more desirable jobs.”
In the Thursday roll call, all 52 Democrats, as well as two Independents who caucus with the Democrats, voted in the affirmative. Emphasizing the importance of the issue to the Obama administration, Vice President Joe Biden personally presided over the Senate during the vote.
The 14 Republican senators who defied their party’s base and voted in favor of the bill are: Marco Rubio (Fla.); Lamar Alexander (Tenn.); Lisa Murkowski (Alaska); Kelly Ayotte (N.H.); Jeffrey Chiesa (N.J.); Susan Collins (Maine); Bob Corker (Tenn.); Jeff Flake (Ariz.); Lindsey Graham (S.C.); Orrin Hatch (Utah); Dean Heller (Nev.); John Hoeven (N.D.); Mark Kirk (Ill.); and John McCain (Ariz.).
Senate approval now sets the stage for a showdown with the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) says the House plans to write its own version of the legislation and won’t consider the Senate bill.
Conservatives are already firing warning shots across the bow of House leadership.
They say they’re willing to take away Boehner’s gavel if he doesn’t play ball on immigration. Boehner garnered only 220 votes in the election for Speaker in January, barely mustering the 218 votes he needed to claim the post.
“There gets to be a point in time where there is the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back,” Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) said the day before the Senate vote. If Boehner breaks the “Hastert Rule” again on the immigration issue, “I think that a lot of members in the conference would probably be frustrated to the point of looking for new leaders.”
The Hastert Rule, named after former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), states that no bill will be brought up for a House vote unless a majority of Republican lawmakers in that chamber support it.
Boehner has repeatedly ignored the rule, bringing up “fiscal cliff” avoidance legislation, Hurricane Sandy aid, and the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, all of which then passed with Democratic support. But in recent days he has tried to reassure his House colleagues that he will abide by the rule on the immigration legislation.
There is “great unrest” among Republicans about violations of this majority-of-the-majority principle, Salmon said.
Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) was even more blunt. “The American people elected a Republican majority to the House of Representatives,” he said. “Were a leader of that majority to use his authority to circumvent that majority, that would be cause for removal in my judgment.”
Naive Republicans think that backing comprehensive immigration reform will somehow win their party Latino votes. But immigration is not an important issue for most Latino voters who are traditionally staunch, pro-big government Democrats.
Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) said Republicans are “running around like chickens with our heads cut off thinking that we have to do [immigration reform] for political reasons.” House leaders need to “stop negotiating with Democrats,” he said. “Start doing what is the right policy — the right conservative policy for America.”
Although amnesty remains unpopular among the American public at large, the activist Left wants the estimated 11 million illegal aliens present in the U.S. to be processed because they see them as future Democratic voters. In addition, many labor unions, such as SEIU see today’s illegals as future union members. Business lobbies favor amnesty because they crave the cheap, largely unskilled labor.
The Left’s goal with the current immigration bill is the same as with most of its major policy initiatives over the past half century. Left-wingers want to create new Democratic voters and flood the country with people who don’t share Americans’ traditional philosophical commitment to the rule of law, limited government, and markets, in order to force changes in society.
An added benefit, from the Left’s perspective, is the proposed mass amnesty would destroy once and for all the Republican Party.